Make the pastry dough through step 7.
Make the filling: in a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and egg yolk together on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Continue with steps 8-10, including preheating the oven to 400F, in the pastry dough recipe for how to assemble. *Don't forget to add the blueberries on top of the filling (as pictured above) and sprinkle the uncooked braids with the sliced almonds before baking.
As the braids are baking, prepare the vanilla glaze by whisking all of the ingredients together. After 10 minutes of cooling, drizzle the braids lightly with glaze and serve immediately.
Braids taste best served on the same day. Dough may be prepared in advance. See "make ahead" instructions in the pastry dough recipe.
Dough recipe adapted from Cooking Illustrated, Joy of Cooking, and Beatrice Ojakangas. The dough must be sufficiently chilled whenever you are working with it.
There are two stages of chilling:
Chill the dough right after you prepare it. Chill it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours. (And up to 3 whole days.)
Chill the dough after the “roll and fold” process (of which I detail in the pastry dough recipe) and before you braid it. Chill for at least 30 minutes. During this second chilling time, you could actually keep the dough frozen for up to 1 month. Then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Because of all the chilling, this pastry is a wonderful recipe to begin the night before and serve as brunch the next morning. Or even prep the dough a few days in advance so your work can be cut down. I detail make-ahead instructions in the pastry dough recipe.
It’s important to know that this recipe makes 2 lbs of dough, which equals 2 braids. The filling and glaze recipes below are enough for 2 braids. 1 braid should serve 4-6 people. Make 2 braids for company. If you don’t need that many tempting danishes around, freeze the second half of the dough for a later time. That’s what we do!